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Accession Rituals and Buddhism in Medieval Japan

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Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 1990 17/2-3


Accession Rituals and Buddhism in Medieval Japan

K am ikaw a Michio*

上川通夫

While many have discussed the status of the emperor in the medieval period in terms of the political or military powers that supported the authority of the emperor (see Ishimoda 1964, 1986,Kuroda 1975, and Amino 1984), research on the public functions in which the emperor actually took part has been lagging. I wish to take up one of the aspects neglected so far in the study of the emperor system, and examine the accession rituals that took place during the medieval period on the occasion of a change in emperors.

The accession or enthronement of a new emperor required the performance of a series of rituals which would endow the new emperor with the proper legitimacy. In Japan these rituals have included the burial of the former emperor, the accession ceremonies (senso 践神 and sokuishiki 即位式),and the celebration of the great harvest festival (daijdsai 大 嘗 祭 These topics have received very little attention, and though I cannot examine the topic fully in this paper, I will focus on the sokuishiki (hereafter “accession ceremony”).

I have chosen to concentrate on the accession ceremony for the following reasons. The accession rituals (sokui girei)t which include This article was translated from the Japanese (Kamikawa 1989a) in consultation with the author. 1 An outline of the various imperial accession rituals, including those in the medieval pe­riod, can be found in W ada (1915).244

the sokuishiki,are often considered traditional rites limited to the imperial family. However, the accession ceremony (sokuishiki) in the medieval period included a Buddhist ritual called the sokui kanjo 艮卩位灌頂(accession ordination).2 Not much is known about this sokui kanjo and there are no serious studies on the subject, though it has been referred to in passing by many scholars. Inoue Mitsusada (1985,p. 106) and Tsukudo Reikan (1976, pp. 297-98) point out the

existence of the sokui kanjo in their studies on the development of Buddhism in the Heian period.3 In recent years Taira Masayuki (1984) has referred to sokui kanjo in discussing the idea of the “mutual dependence of Imperial Law and Buddhist Law” (obo buppo soi 王法仏法相依),as the distinctive ruling ideology of the temple / shrine authorities (jisha seiryoku 寺社勢力) which was asserted from around the 11th and 12th centuries, as well as the concepts of a Buddhist state and a Buddhist monarchy, and the theory of imperial authority being granted by the Buddha (oken butsuju setsu 王権 授 説 ),a kind of Buddhistdivine

right of kings.” Spirited research on this topic has proceeded in recent years with regard to Japanese literature, clarifying how expressions of sokui kanjo were formed in the medieval period. Ito Masayoshi (1980) has referred to sokui kanjo in pointing out that the expressions associated with imperial accession are implicit in the Buddhist tales called jidd setsuwa 慈童說站. Taking a hint from these studies, Abe Yasuro (1984,1985a,1985b) has examined many historical docu­ments for comments on sokui kanjo by temple people. He concluded that jidd setsuwa and “infant baptism” (chigo kanjo 稚児灌頂)served as devices for

“reversing fate” by recovering a lost sacredness, that is, by playing an intermediary role for an order that has been disrupted. Matsuoka Shinpei (1986) has pointed out that the temple tales have a deep connection with imperial accession rites at the level of the underlying structure of the stories. The references to sokui kanjo (accession protocol [sokuihd 即位法]) that were analyzed in the field of Japanese literature, however, are all given from the perspective of the temple people (jike 家 ),and

2 Studies on Buddhism and accession rituals can be found in Yamaori 1984 and 1985, How­ever, Yamaori's work concerns the involvement of Buddhist priests in the accession rituals and assumes that the parts in which the emperor is directly involved are "traditions based on purely Shinto rituals•” If so, they are quite different from the sokui kanjo which I discuss here. 3 Other studies which mention sokui kanp include W ada 1915; Tsujl 1969,pp. 717-20; Matsuura 1891, Tanaka

1915, Tomita 1915, and Kushida 1941 and 1964..KAMIKAWA: Accession Rituals and Buddhism 245 almost all of the stories are in the form of religious histories (engi 縁 起 ) based on fictitious tales. We cannot examine the historical actuality of sokui kanjo on the basis of an analysis of comments on accession rituals originally collected by temple authorities for the purpose of advocating the practice of sokui kanjo. We should examine how the accession ceremonies were

actually performed, and inquire as to the role these ceremonies played in Japanese history. In order to fulfill this task it is necessary to analyze the historical documents which tell of the activities of the emperors who actually received sokui kanjo.

In short, I will analyze the sokui kanjo historically and thus ex­amine the relationship between Buddhism and the accession cere­monies. Further, I will consider the special characteristics and historical evolution of accession rituals as a whole.

Before proceeding I would like to clarify a basic premise concern­ing the relationship between Buddhism and the medieval emperor. This premise concerns the emperor and his taking of priestly vows.

During the medieval period it was often the case that a retired emperor (in ) would take the vows of a Buddhist priest;4 there were some retired emperors who received the transmission of the Buddha-dharma (denpd kanjo 伝法灌頂〉and the title of ajari (Skt. acarya), and became members of a dharma lineage within the temple social structureノ In contrast, as a rule an emperor still on the throne did not take Buddhist priestly vows.6 It was inconceivable that a medieval emperor still on the throne would officially become part of a temple lineage by voluntarily passing through the rituals of affiliation with a temple social order.7 The emperor existed outside the Buddhist order; as a rule he could not function as a high-level ecclesiastical figure or as a performer of Buddhist rituals.

4 A list is given in KUNAICHO SHIRYOBU 1980, p. 344. 5 Em perors U da, En'yu, Go-Shirakawa, Kameyama, and Go-Uda. Kunaicho Shiryobu 1980, pp. 413-24, gives historical documents that tell of these ceremonies, but the lists include kechien 結縁 kanjo (ceremony for “establishing a relationship” [with Buddhism]), an ordina­tion given to lay people, and thus should be referred to with caution. 6 Emperor Shotoku of the 8th century is an exception. Also, emperors Ninmyo, Murakami, and Go-Ichijo took the priestly vows while stUl emperors. However, in each of these cases the vows were taken on their deathbeds, and so do not really constitute a breaking of this rule. 7 Many emperors received kechien kanjo and / or the Mahayana bodhisattva vows, but this did not affect their status as lay people. 8 I believe that the understanding of the role of the medieval emperor as explained in cur­rent histories ofJ apanese Buddhism is inadequate. Modern studies on the medieval Buddhist

In light of the above premise, if we can show that the sokui kanjo was in fact performed during accession ceremonies in the medieval period, then it is imperative that we re-examine the relationship between Buddhism and the medieval emperor, and the actual form of imperial authority in the medieval period. In this article I will try to determine the times at which the sokui kanjd was actually performed, ascertain the actual details of the sokui kanjd rituals, and place the sokui kanjd within its proper historical context As for the term sokui kanjo itself, there is no general consensus among scholars of medieval Japanese history as to its actual content; I will therefore try to define what I mean by the term. In this article I will analyze the three elements of sokuihd (accession proto­col), in'myO denju (conferring of mudra and dharanl), and sokui kanjd.

Sokuihd refers to the complex narrative expressions and other oral transmissions from master to disciple (injin ) connected with the sokui kanjo. The only surviving sokuihd from the early medieval period, however, are ones which were prepared and endorsed by temple-shrine authorities. According to Abe (1984), these were sys­tematized by Buddhist scholar-priests affiliated with the Eshin branch 恵心流 in the later part of the Kamakura period (13th-14th century).

The in’myd denju refers to the rite preceding the accession ceremony wherein the esoteric mudra (hi-in 秘 )and dharapl (shingon 真 言 ) are transmitted to the emperor. The sokui kanjd then takes place when the emperor himself, using the newly transmitted esoteric abilities and knowledge, performs the mudra and chants the dharanl during the accession ceremony. In a broad sense the in ,myd denju could be considered a part of the sokui kanjd, but there is significance in the fact that the emperor performs the latter activity indepen­dently. Thus when I use the word sokui kanjd I am limiting it to this activity by the emperor during the accession ceremony.


When Were the Sokui KanjO Performed!


The original meaning of kanjo in India (Skt. abhiseka) was that of an initiation ceremony consisting of pouring or sprinkling water from the four seas on the royal head during a king’s accession order emphasize the role of the retired emperor as a unifier of the temple and shrine power structure, especially if the discussion centers on institutions and power struggles. See, for ex­ample Moiukawa 1981 and Taira 1987.KAMIKAWA: Accession Rituals and Buddhism 247 ceremony or

to designate a crown prince. Along with the develop­ment of esoteric Buddhism (mikkyd) in Japan, various esoteric initi­ations of historical significance were performed. Perhaps one of the most important was the denpd kanjo (initiation for the transmission of the dharma), which was valued highly by the Buddhist temple community. This ritual consisted basically of sprinkling water, which symbolizes the five wisdoms of Mahavairocana, on the head of the disciple. By passing through this initiation, a monk would receive the high rank of Ajari, join the dharma-lineage of Kukai or Maha­vairocana, and enter the fold of the

Buddha’s disciples. In medieval temple society, however, the relationship of linkage between master and disciple meant in fact a relationship which involved secular lineages and cliques, which in turn formed the basic units of both the large and small private interest groups (see Kamikawa 1985). The sokui kanjof at least as far as its content is revealed in the accession protocols which we will examine later, was very similar to the denpd kanjd. Both kanjo are performed to bestow certain religious qualifications on, and alter the current status of, the recipient I will discuss the differences between these

two initiations later; at this time it is enough to point out that sokui kanjo was an initiation performed at the time of the new emperor’s accession.9 In short, sokui kanjd was an esoteric Buddhist rite performed by the emperor himself during the accession ceremony. Most of the studies which point out the existence of the sokui kanjo maintain that its origin is to be found at the time of Go-SanjO’s accession in the later

Heian period. First let us examine the historical documents which relate how the initiation was actually performed. It is generally believed that Go-SanjO was enthroned in a.d. 1068; however, the earliest and only primary reference we have is from the Go-Sanjd-in gosokui-ki 後三^ 院御即么記(Gunsho Ruiju, vol.7): Minamoto no Morofusa says that • . . during the accession of re­tired emperor Sanjo, he held the end of the scepter and walked for­ward from the Koyasudono.... This time it was not like that. The lord, during this interval, clasped his hands and held the secret mudra (ken,in 拳印)like Mahavairocana.


' The main difference between denpd kanjd and kechien kanjo is that the latter merely estab­lishes a lay person's relationship with the Buddha and does not involve any changes in the recipient’s social or religious status or qualifications. 10 This is a report written by Oe Masaiusa 大江匡房,who yfaskurOdo (chamberlain) at the time and observed the ceremony.248 Japanese Jou rn a l o f Religious Studies i 7/2-3 As far as we can tell from this report, Go-Sanjo proceeded to the throne while making a mudrd with his hands and not carrying a scepter. This mudra appeared, to Oe Masafusa, to be that of the mudra of Mahavairocana. It seems rather farfetched to conclude merely on this basis that the sokui kanjd was performed at this time.

There are some later documents which claim that the sokui kanjd was performed at the time of Go-Sanjo*s accession. The Sokui kanjd in ,myd yurai no koto 即位灌頂印明由来事[On the origin of the mudra and dharanl of the sokui kanjd]tu from the year 1500 says: At the time of Go-Sanjo*s accession on the twenty-first day of the seventh month of the fourth year of Jiryaku (1068), the lord re­ceived the transmission fromjozon 成尊(a disciple ofNinkai Sojo). Consequently, when he ascended to the Takamikura 筒御座,since he had to make the . . . mudra, this was seen by the minister Masafusa and recorded. This was the origin [of the sokui kanjo].

Undoubtedly the claim that sokui kanjo was first performed at the accession of Go-Sanjo is based on this record. However, the two documents are separated by a great many years, and if the phrase “this was seen by the minister Masafusa and recorded” refers to the earlier document, then it must be considered to have low historical reliability. Tsujl Zennosuke (1969) expresses doubt that this docu­ment is historically reliable concerning the sokui kanjd, and I must agree.12 We cannot date the origin of the sokui kanjo at the time of the accession of Go-Sanj5 on the basis of these documents. The next document which mentions sokui kanjd is a story con­cerning the great dharma-master Jozo in the Shui ojoden 拾遺往生伝: In the past the retired emperor Uda received the initiation of the four seas (shikai no kanjo 四海之灌頂)13 in order to become the king

11 A collection of pieces copied in modern times from various imperial archives. Ito 1980 quotes document number 17 in its entirety. These documents were copied by the kanpaku Ichijb Fuyura in 1500 from his father Ichijd Kanera’s records. 12 Tsuji adds the following comments: “The emperor must have clasped his hands in a way which looked like the mudrS. of MahAvairocana's wisdom because it would be inappropriate to take the throne ‘empty-handed•’ • • • In other words, it was later said that the emperor re­ceived the transmission from Seizon (1012-1074), and still later that it was a secret (esoteric) transmission, and thus the story was blown out of proportion” (pp. 719-20).

Recently Abe (1989) discovered a Shingon (tSmtsu) document, concerning rituals from about the same time asjien, called SansSkiruishu 三僧記類聚(kept at Ninna-ji). This docu­ment contains entries similar in content to the Masafusa entry; it was later incorporated into the Go-SanjO sokui kanjo. However, it appears that this document, like the MusSh, is a second­hand report, and cannot be accepted as a first-hand historical report.KAMIKAWA: Accession Rituals and Buddhism 249 of the sun’s domain.14 Later he received the initiation of the three secrets (sanmitsu no kanjo 三蜜之灌頂)15 in order to become king of the moon’s rin g16 (Inoue and Osone 1974,p. 324).

Emperor Uda ascended the throne in 887 and retired from the throne in 897. He receive the denpd kanjd from the Homu17 Yakushin 法務益信 in 901(Toboki 4). However,the Shui djoden is believed to have been completed by Miyoshi Tameyasu 三善為康(1049-1139) in 1123 (Inoue and Osone 1974,pp. 741-45). Most likely it reflects the perception of people in the 12th century rather than the his­torical doings of Emperor Uda. In addition, based on the fact that we cannot find any other records of the sokui kanjd from around the 12th century, the possibility that the sokui kanjd was being per­formed during this period is very slim. About the only thing that we can conclude for sure is that the reference in the Shui djoden to the “initiation of the four seas” reveals that this concept was known at the time among certain members of the aristocracy who had an interest in Buddhist thought.

Further evidence for this idea and of even greater value with regard to the sokui kanjo are the entries for Kennin 3 (1203).6.22, Kennin 4 (1204).1.1, and Jogen 3 (1209).6 in the Jichin Osho musdki 慈鎮和尚夢想記[Record of dreams by Jichin (}ien); hereafter Musdki] (see Akamatsu 1957 and Manaka 1979). This text consists of a Buddhist interpretation by Jien 慈円 of a revelation bestowed on him in a dream which he had in 1203 concerning the sacred jewels (shvnjt 璽 ) and sword (hoken 剣 ) of the emperor, written and analyzed after awakening from this dream.

The contents are rather complicated (for details see Akamatsu 1957). In short, the central theme of the Musdki is to provide a contemporary interpretation of the sacred jewels and sword (i. e. the

noue notes that the “initiation of the four seas" refers to the sokui kanjo. 14 That is, the emperor of Japan. 15 The “three secrets” are the three activities of body, speech (verbal), and mind as taught in Shingon Buddhism; thus this could refer to denpO kanjd. 16 The “moon’s ring” (gackirin) refers to the basic method of meditation as taught in esoteric Buddhism wherein one meditates on the ring of the moon. Here, with the pattern of the emperor— kanjd — ruler of Japan, and retired emperor —denpS Aafy'5—ruler of esoteric practices, we have the emperor involved in every sort of esoteric ritual. This is expressed in such a way so that the universe is divided into two parts winch are then integrated by means of the emperor.

A rank in the Buddhist hierarchy.250 Japanese Jou rn a l o f Religious Studies 17/2-3 sacred symbols and treasures—shinki 器 ) of the emperor. Jien’s interpretation can be outlined as follows: sacred sword i the emperor

i the sacred king of the golden ring (konrin jo~o)

Mahavairocana as the diamond realm sacred jewels

the empress (gyokujo 玉 女 )

the buddha-eye as mother i Mahavairocana as the womb realm (merging of the two) i “the accomplishment of Buddhist Law and Imperial Law (buppd-dbd) as the principle of the nation and for the benefit of the peopleJien identified the loss of the sacred sword in the sea at Dan-no- ura with the “ruin of the land of Japan by the warriors and shogun,” and decried the passing of the sword’s power to the “human sho- gun.’’18 There are two references to sokui kanjd in the context of this discussion: (1)The rituals associated with ascending the Takamikura for the accession of the secular ruler imitate this rite of the transformation of Mahavairocana as Konrinno 金輪王 _19 The mudra of wisdom is clasped and transmitted. This (represents) Mahavairocana of the diamond realm being manifested in this world in order to benefit sentient beings.

(2) When the emperor is enthroned, he clasps the mudra of wisdom when he ascends the rakamikura seat, as the minister Masafusa notes in his record. Nothing else is known about this matter. Also, even if one sees this record, one cannot verify it. Ever since this time during the accession from generation to generation, all have not [or, none have] kept this process.

18 As Akamatsu (1957) points out, there is a considerable difference between the attitude of Jien at this point and what he writes in the GvkanshS at a later date. In the GttkanshB the bushi are seen not as the emperor's enemy, but as those who protect the emperor. 19 One of the four “kings of transmigration” who rule over this world.KAMIKAWA: Accession Rituals and Buddhism 251 Jien is distressed by the loss of the sacred sword and the success of the warrior clans, but it occurs to him that the wisdom mudra or the “mudra of the sword and sheath” (toshoin 刀銷印) from the esoteric Buddhist practices could be a substitute. However, Jien’s knowledge concernine the accession protocols seems to rely only on “the record of the minister Masafusa.”20 Even for Jien, there is no other example he can come up with in which the wisdom mudra is used during the accession ceremony. If this is so, then we must conclude that even with the influence of the Go-Sanjd-in go-sokui ki, -there is in fact no actual case up to this point in time during which an esoteric ritual consisting of clasping the wisdom mudra was used in an accession ceremony.

In contrast, the first truly reliable document appears in the entry for Shoo 1 (1288).3,13 of the Fushimi Tennd nikki 伏見天皇日記[Diary of Emperor Fushimi]: The thirteenth, tsuchinoe~inuf clear.

This evening the kanpaku (Nijo Morotada), during the accession, conferred the secret mudra and such matters. This was done properly according to established standards.

The occasion referred to in this record is certainly the first ob­servance of this practice. The accession of Emperor Fushimi oc­curred two days later on the 15th. It is most likely that the “secret mudra and such matters” were repeated during the accession cere­mony. The details are not clear, but the Sokui kanjd in’myd yurai no koto mentioned previously says, According to reports, during the accession of the retired emperor Fushimi, on Koan 11(1288)3.15, Juraku-in Dogen (son of the kan­paku Nijo Yoshizane), minister to the empress, fooled the regent (Nijo Morotada, the kanpaku) and conferred (the in'mp kanjo) for the sake of the lord.

The kanpaku Nijo Morotada and his younger brother Dogen , the Tendai zasu^ appear to have promoted the sokui kanjd intensely. 20 This must refer to the Go~SanjO~in go-sokui ki. 21 Dogen was the son of Nijo Yoshizane, the younger brother of Nij6 Morotada, and head abbot (zasu) of the Tendai establishment on Mt. Hiei. Abe (1989) introduces some historical documents which indicate possible connections be­tween Emperor Go>Daigo and the sokui kanjo. The Mon*yOki 門葉記,ten 130 (in volume 12 of the collections ofillustrations of the Thishd shinshiL daizOMyS)y says that Jidd 慈道,the protector- monk of the new emperor (Go-Daigo), conferred the “accession mudra” (sokui'in) on the re­gent Konoe Michihira 近衛道平 in Bunpd 2 (1318).2.28. Also, according to the KannO ntnen252 Japanese Jou rn a l o f Religious Studies 17/2-3

If this document is historically reliable, it means that the regents and the temple authorities took an active and central role in the first performance of sokui kanjd by an emperor. Hanazono, the third emperor after Fushimi and belonging to the same Jimyo-in lineage, writes the following in his diary (Hanazono tennd nikki 花園天皇日記)for 1317.5.18: The eighteenth, mizunoto-mi, clear. A visit from Zoki 項基 Sojo, who conferred the mudra for the sokui kanjd. I kept a pure abstinence especially during this period of seven days, in order to receive these mudra.

Emperor Hanazono made meticulous preparations in order to receive the “mudra for the sokui kanjd*' However, the accession ceremony for Emperor Hanazono was in Enkyo 1(1308), so we cannot conclude that the sokui kanjd was performed for the accession ceremony. Bunpo 1(1317),at the end of Hanazono’s reign, was the year in which the so-called Bunpo no wadan (Bunpo negotiations) took place in an attempt to solve the conflicting claims of the Go- Fukakusa and Kameyama imperial lineages. In the fourth month of this year both parties sent representatives to the Bakufu to negotiate the rules for the next accession and choice of the crown prince.

When Emperor Hanazono heard of the arrival in Kyoto of the Bakufu agent, he thought that he was a messenger to report on the transfer of the throne (see Kuroda 1965,p. 252). At this time of uncertainty when both factions believed that the other side would capitulate through the BunpO negotiations, it is possible that Hanazono attempted to underscore the merit of his own faction and accentuate his right to the throne by receiving the sokui kanjd.

It is well known that Emperor Hanazono placed a high value on imperial virtue and had an interest in scholarship. He also attempted to learn more about sokui kanjd. Hanazono writes in his diary that on Gen-5 2 (1320). 1.21, after he had abdicated the throne, he in­quired of Jigon 慈厳 Soj5 concerning “the secret mudra of the sokui kanjo•” At this time he was told about the existence of Jichin Osho musdki, and Jigon explained more about it on the next day. Many examples of Buddhist monks who approached the emperor and tol d of the existence of sokui kanjd can be found from this period, and the imperial household also showed an interest It is also significant hinami-ki 観応ニ年日次記 of the Daigo-ji monk Bogen 房玄,Kitabatake Chikafusa told of the transmission by Bunkan of the uinfmy0 for ruling the four seas.”KAMIKAWA: Accession Rituals and Buddhism 253 that the Musdki was referred to at this time. It appears that the knowledge of sokui kanjo in this early period was indirectly based on the Go Sanjo-in go-sokuiki and the Musdki.

Akamatsu (1957) points out the high probability that the Musdki was also read by Emperor Go-Daigo. According to Abe (1985a), the monk Monkan 観,who had close relations with Go-Daigo, wrote about the accession protocol in a postscript to his Himitsu gentei kuketsu 秘密源底 ロ 決 [[[Oral transmission]] of the innermost secrets] in 1338,and said that Amaterasu-omikami equals Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana) equals Konrin equals Nyoirin22 and so forth. The strong character of Emperor Go-Daigo is reflected in his political actions and also in matters of his religious faith; it is not difficult to imagine that he had a great interest in the sokui kanjo. In my personal opinion, however, we have no solid evidence to prove that Go-Daigo actually performed sokui kanjo.‘s The term sokui kanjo begins to appear with more frequency in documents from the period of the split between two imperial fac­tions. Except for the fact that Emperor Fushimi ( r . 1288-1298) received the in ,myd transmission, however, there is no evidence to show that this practice was established, and we have no clear evi­dence concerning these matters even into the period of internal strife between the Northern and Southern dynasties (1336-1392). There are documents which show that ten years before the merging of the two factions with the accession of Emperor Go-Komatsu, the sokui kanjo was performed during the accession ceremony of Emperor Go-Komatsu of the northern faction on Eitoku 2 (1382). 12.28. The Sokui kanjo in’myd yurai no koto,after referring to the times of Emperor Fushimi, says,


过 One of the manifestations of Kannon (Avalokiteivara).


23 K u ro d a (1980, p. 188) says that Em peror Go-Daigo “received thejushohu kanjo 受職灌頂


(a ritual for ^conferring the rank’ of dharma-ruler, equal to that of a buddha), something for which there was no precedent by any previous emperor or retired emperor." It is not clear what his source is for this claim, but the JinnO skdtOki contains the following passage: (Emperor Go-Daigo) was very interested in the Buddha-dharma and studied the Shingon tradition. At first he took the tonsure (i. e., became hO-G 法皇) and later received qualification from the former Daisojo Zenju 助 . A case where an em­peror receives kanp can also be found in T*ang China. •.. This occasion was a true conferring of rank (jushoku). I heard that thus his qualifications were established.

It is more likely that the term “qualifications” in this passage refers to Go-Daigo completing his studies in esoteric Buddhism and gaining approval for receiving kanp later, rather than that he had completed the jushoku or denpO kanjo.254 Japanese Journal o f Religious Studies 17/2-3 At the time of the accession of Go-Komatsu on Eitoku 2.12.18 [sic], the regent (Nijo Yoshimoto) conferred [the ceremony] on the in­fant lord (six years old at the time).

There are very few other documents concerning this event. There are some later documents, however, which support this account. First, the Zoku shigusho 続史愚抄(1777-1798) says, (Eitoku 2.12).28, mizunoe-tora, cloudy and clear. The emperor (six years old) had conferred on him the highest rites in the office of the Daijo Kancho.......The sokui kanjo was conferred by the regent (Yoshimoto).

The Zoku honchd tsugan 続本朝通鑑 has a passage on “The secret transmission of NijoM: At the time of the accession of the infant lord, there was an oral transmission of secret matters. No one knew of this except the re­gent and his immediate &mily.... Since this time this single &mily transmission has been passed down to Yoshimoto. Other regents did not know of it. Therefore the four emperors K6my6 (r.1337- 1348), Suko (r .1349-1351), Go-Kogon (r .1353-1371), and Go- En*yu (r .1374-1382) had Yoshimoto as their teacher. On this occasion also, Yoshimoto, though he was of old age, conferred the transmission. The words which were transmitted are secret and no one has heard them.24 Although it is difficult to accept all the details in this record, it serves as evidence that Nijo Yoshimoto did transmit the in’myd. Since Nijo Yoshimoto was, except for Emperor Kdmyo, regent at the time of the accession of the three northern dynasty emperors, there is some reason to believe that the latter half of this record is accurate.

Emperor Kdmyo came to the throne in 1336,installed by Ashikaga Takauji in rebellion against Emperor Go-Daigo of the southern dy­nasty. The record shows that all of the remaining four emperors in the northern dynasty—Suk6, Go-KOgon, Go-En’ya,and Go- Komatsu —received the in’myd transmission from Nijo Yoshimoto. The fact that this is a later document, and that it purports to relate secret transmissions of the Nijo family, casts some doubt on its 24 The abbreviated part of the above passage tells that this transmission was passed on dur­ing the later Heian and early Kamakura periods by Fujiwara Motofusa, Kujd Kanezane, and Kujo Michi'ie. However, this section is an attempt to explain how the transmission was limited to the Nijo family after the Kujo and Ichijd families incurred the emperor's censure for the HOji rebellion (1247). The entire passage thus reflects an attempt to highlight the idea that there was an actual transmission of the secret mudra and that it was limited to the Nijo fiainily.KAMIKAWA:

Accession Rituals and Buddhism 255 reliability, but the in'myd transmission with regard to Emperor Go- Komatsu is certainly authentic. It is also quite possible that sokui kanjd was performed along with the conferring of the in,myd for the five emperors of the northern dynasty.25 The emperor’s sokui kanjd assumes the necessity of the in9myd trans­mission, and the Nijo family was responsible for performing the transmission. Nijo Morotada conferred it on Emperor Fushimi and Nijo Yoshimoto conferred it on Emperor Go-Komatsu; both were regents (kanpaku and sessho). It is not clear whether or not this was an established

role of the regent alone. In fact, however, at the time of accession ceremonies in the latter part of the medieval period, usually a member of the Nijo family was regent, and this may in turn have become the basis for claiming it as a secret transmission of the Nijo family.26 In the Sokui kanjd in'myo yurai no kotoy however, the line of transmission to Ichijo Kanera (1402-1481) is given as Nijo Yoshimoto-»Ichij5 Tsunetsugu-^IchijO Tsunesuke (Kanera’s elder brother)-»Ichij5

Kanera. Kanera’s son IchijO Fuyura, who made copies of Kanera’s records, is said to have received the transmission from Kanera. In addition, Ichijo Kanera’s work Tokazuiyo 桃華蕊葉27 contains a section on “twelve of the family transmissions.” The first entry is “on the sokui kanjo in’myd,” and we can assume that in Kanera’s time the IchijO family also had such family transmissions. The Konoe family also has records of such transmissions in the modern period.28 In short,it is better to conclude that the role of transmitting the in’myd was part of the responsibility of the current regent, rather than one which belonged to the Nijo family.


Though the documentary evidence is admittedly scarce, let us conclude that the first definite appearance of the sokui kanjd was at the accession of Emperor Fushimi near the end of the Kamakura period. It cannot be said for sure whether or not sokui kanjd was

According to records kept by the^ite, there were documents concerning sokui kanjd and

the em peror belonging to Daikaku-ji. For the fu ll citation, see Kamikawa 1989a, note 43,p.

These documents are discussed in Abe 1989, p. 143. 26 The regents at the time of the emperor’s accession after the time of Emperor Go- Komatsu were: Shoko-Ichijo Tsunetsugu; Go-Tsuchimikado-Nijo Mochimichi; Go-Kashiwabara-Nijo Korefusa; Go-Nara-Nijo Korefusa; Ogimachi-Konoe Haretsugu. 27 Included in the Zoku gunsho ruija, volume 20. 28 Ito 1980 introduces some documents in the Konoe family library which mention sokui kanjo in the modern period.256 Japanese Jou rn al o f Religious Studies 17/2-3

performed consistently after this first time. We have the case of Emperor Hanazono, who received the in’myd transmission after his accession ceremony. As likely as not the sokui kanjd was performed only sporadically,then took hold via the practices of the northern dynasty emperors, and became an established custom at the time of Emperor Go-Komatsu's accession.29 The following points can be made at this time.

First, the existence of the sokui kanjo, or at least the idea of sokui kanjd, can be seen from around the end of the Heian period among some of the intelligentsia and members of the aristocracy who had an interest in Buddhism.

Second, it was not until the latter part of the Kamakura period (Emperor Fushimi) that the emperor actually performed the dharanl and secret mudra during the accession ceremony. There is a good possibility that they were also performed by the emperors of the northern dynasty, but it was not until the time of Emperor Go- Komatsu, just before the re-unification of the southern and northern lines, that their performance became an established practice. In my opinion there are no documents which reflect indisputable historical fact outside of those mentioned above. The basically confidential nature of the accession ceremony and

esoteric rituals undoubtedly contributed to inhibit the revelation of these matters in historical documents. However, it is the content and ritual form of the oral transmissions which are secret; if the rituals actually take place, it would not be improper for the event to be recorded. Emperor Hanazono, with his passion for knowledge, did confirm the content of the sokui kanjd and wrote about it in his diary. To put it another way, the fact that it is mentioned in very few documents, at least at the beginning of the medieval period, indicates that the event itself probably did not take place in cases other than the ones mentioned.

Third, as for the historical background from which the perfor­mance of the sokui kanjd appears: the fact that we find references to the sokui kanjd in connection with Emperor Go-Sanjo and Jien

TO refers to a document from 1414 as the source for this practice (1980,document #18).

In addition, Hayashi Kazan's Sfunid denju 神道伝技[[[Shinto]] transmissions] contains an entry "#75, on additional Shinto transmissions: the sokui kanjo ** The entry refers to “secret records of the regent NijO Yoshimoto” and adds that the sokui kanfi was performed during the acces­sion of Emperor Go-Komatsu (see Taira 1972, pp. 47-S).KAMIKAWA: Accession Rituals and Buddhism 257 (during the rule of retired emperor Go-Toba) is of great significance with regard to each of their political eras, since it was exactly during this time that the medieval period is considered to have started, and it was a time of crisis for the imperial

family. The later Kamakura and Nanbokucho periods, where we find more definite references to sokui kanjd, is a time when the imperial line had split into two, and there was the possibility that it could split further into four or five lines. During this period the political power of the imperial family was at a state in which all the imperial authority rested in the retired emperor and was dependent on the mystical efficacy of religious vessels or symbols, such as the

“three imperial regalia” of the sacred sword, mirror, and jewels (see Kuroda 1965, p. 356).30 It is best to understand the actual performance of the sokui kanjd as a means to ensure the power of imperial authority by emperors who had lost actual political power; this was done consciously and was intimately connected with the loss of the sacred sword in the sea during the battle of Dan-no-ura and the attempt to examine the contents of the “sacred seal 璽 (unlike the sword, reported to have been recovered after the battle).


The Accession Protocol and Sokui Kanjo There are many versions of accession protocol, but here we will use as our basis the Shindai hiketsu 神代秘決(It6 1980,documents 11 and 12), a text compiled during the 14th century (the period of the southern and northern dynasties) and considered “the definitive edition of accession protocol.” This is a very lengthy document, so I will summarize only the necessary points. O f interest here are the sections “On the To-ji Accession” (Td-ji gosokui-bon 東寺御即位品 > and “On the Tendai Accession” (Tendai 天台 gosokui-bon ).

30 During the accession ceremony,when the emperor advanced from the Koyasudono of the Daigokuden to the Takamikura, two attendants would accompany him carrying a sword and the imperial seal. The sword and seal were placed in back of the throne on which the emperor was seated. See W ada 1915 and Gosokui shidai 御即位次第 in Zoku Gunsho Ruiju ,

vol.10. 31 Jien*s work, as well as Hanazono’s interest in the MusOki, was inspired by an interest in the actual contents of the box reported to contain the imperial seal. During the period of the northern and southern dynasties, the southern line retained the imperial seal. Strictly speak­ing, therefore, the proper accession ceremony could not be conducted for the emperors of the northern line, even at the dme of Go-Komatsu's accession.

First,the section on the To-ji accession consists of the following: 1 .Kukai (774-835)32 combined the Dakinl dharanl (taten'myd D乇天明)with the mudra that he received in a transmission from Amaterasu into a single set of dharanl and mudra (i^myd). 2. Ever since the time of Jinmu the transmission had occurred from emperor to emperor,but since the time of (Fujiwara no) Kamatari the transmission was performed by the regent. 3. The horizon was Taten (pakii>l茶枳尼笑). 4. Kamatari and Taten are incarnations of Amaterasu. 5. The “three mudra and two dharam” (san’in nimyd 三印ニ明: the mudra and dharanl of the five-

pronged pestle of Vajrasattva 金剛薩埵外五古印,the mudra for ruling the four seas四海 領 掌 ,and the mudra and dharanl of wisdom )have been transmitted since the time of Kukai. 6. The ritual process of “becoming ruler of the four seas” consists of pouring salt water from the four seas from five bottles (gobyd, symbolizing the five wisdoms of the buddha) on the head of the emperor as he is seated on the Takamikura. 7. A separate protocol is kept by the Hirosawa branch [of the Shingon school].

Next, the section on the Tendai accession is as follows: 1 .The history of the origin (engi) of the accession protocol ac­cording to the tale of Emperor Mu (Boku-6). 2. The procedure for the mudra and the dharanl. 3. Oral teachings concerning the transmission to the emperor by a high-ranked monk. Among the varieties of accession protocols, the two outlined above are considered very representative. We are not concerned here to analyze in detail the content and expressions used in these accession protocols, but rather to inquire as to how the ritual forms of sokui kanjd were perceived within the context of the accession protocols.

A document called “Accession Ordination of the Emperor” (Tenshi sokui kanjd 天子即位灌頂;see ItO 1980, document 13) includes a detailed list of the protocol for the performance of sokui kanjd. I would like to focus on the following certificate iinnn )• It is quite long, but the entire text is as follows (numbers have been added for easier reference):

52 The founder of Shingon Buddhism; known by his posthumous title Kobo Daishi.

KAMIKAWA:

Accession Ordination of the Emperor


(1 )First, the five types of mudra 五锺印 as transmitted, for each of the five types of sight 33 The mudra of the fist of wisdom;" ' the mudra of the first sight, the sight of the physical eye.35 For ruling the northern continent The mudra of no-place and non-reaching;36 the mudra of the second sight, the divine sight . . .

For ruling the western continent The stupa mudra; the mudra of the third sight, the sight of wisdom.. . . For ruling the southern conti­nent.

The mudra of guidance; the mudra of the fourth sight, the dharma-sight.. . . For ruling the eastern conti­nent.

The mudra of the Buddha- eye; the mudra of the fifth sight, the sight of a bud­dha. . . . Next, conferring of the wis­dom fist mudra . . . .

The dharanl of Mahavairocana of the Da (to have treasures) ki (to remove prosperity). Hasaratatoban.

The dharanl of Mahavairocana of the womb realm Dakinl (same as for the vajra realm). Abira-un*ken.

vajra realm. hindrances) ni (to attain
33 T he five types o f sight (gogen 五眼 ) refer to ordinary sight w ith the physical eye, divine
sight, the sight of wisdom, dharma-sight, and the sight of a buddha. ' 1 The mudra formed by Mahavairocana in the vajra realm (hongSkai). 35 Translator's note: An illustration of the wisdom fist mudra has been substituted for the detailed descriptions of the mudras given in the text. 36 The mudra formed by Mahavairocana in the womb realm (taizOkai).260 Japanese Jou rn a l o f Religious Studies 11/2-3
(3) Next, the mudra for ruling the four seas .
The outer mudrS of the five-pronged pestle.
First Saikaido [the road along the western sea] (from Awaji).
Next, Tosando [the road along the eastern mountains].
Next, Nankaido [the road along the southern sea].
Next, Tokaido [the road along the eastern sea].
Next, Hokurikud5 [the road along the northern coast].
Next, Sanyodo [the road along the southern slopes of the moun­tains].
Next, San’indo [the road along the northern slopes of the moun­tains].
These are called the mudra of the seas. (4) The ten virtues: Three of the body: to avoid murder, stealing, and licentiousness.
Four of the mouth: to avoid telling lies, idle talk, evil words, and double-talk.
Three of the mind: to avoid greed, anger, and ignorance.

Upholding the ten virtues, the rank of emperor is acquired. (5) The chapter on skillful means; the mudra of the fist of wisdom; hasaratatoban. “Within the Buddha-lands of the ten directions, there is only the dharma of a single vehicle (ekay&nd),” [T9.8al7] The chapter on the practice of peace; the mudra of no-place and non-reaching; abira-un’ken. “To perceive all dharmas as empty and in their real aspects.” [T9.37bl2] The chapter on the life span (of the tathagata); the mudra of the stupa; Kenfgutarakiria. “The words of the Buddha are true and not vacuous; like a physician he uses skillful means.” [T9.43c24-25] The chapter on the universal gateway;37 the mudra of guidance; A-AH-AM-AHK-A

“With the eye of compassion he views sentient beings; he is a sea of blessings, immeasurable.” [T 9_58bl-2] When the emperor is enthroned and goes to the Daigokuden Takamikura, the regent confers on the emperor the mudra and dharanl listed above and also says: 37 These chapters are, respectively, chapters 2,14,16,and 25 of the Lotus Sutra.KAMIKAWA: Accession Rituals and Buddhism 261 “The regent, having responsibility to assist the emperor in his stately duties, is also responsible for crowning the son of heaven at the age of seven.,,38 The above information was transmitted by Mubon Gyoin 無品 胤 ,a member of the imperial family.

Written down by the previous Tendai Zasu (Abbot), the office of Homu, previously Daisojo Hoin Osho Kosho 承 . This document is a private text of the jike, the temple families.

It reveals the mudra and dharanl used in the sokui kanjo which were passed down from the previous Tendai Zasu Kosho to the new Tendai Zasu Gyoin. The phrase “the regent confers on the emperor the mudra and dharanl listed above” shows that the Tendai accession protocol, unlike the Tendai gosokui-bon quoted above, gradually changed from having the transmission given by a high-ranking monk to having the transmission given by a regent.39 First we should consider the religious meaning of the sokui kanjo within the context of accession protocol as it reflects jike ideology, by examining the content of the transmission protocols quoted above.

The certificate (injin) quoted above consists of five parts, and it appears that this was the sequence which was followed for conferring the transmission to the emperor. These five parts are 1 ) the five types of mudra, 2) the mudra of the wisdom fist, 3) the mudra for ruling the four seas, 4) the ten positive precepts, and 5) the four essential passages (from the Lotus Sutra). 1 )The five types of mudra are also called the “five-pronged pestle (or “limb”〉m udra"五 古 (股)印 ,40 The mudra for ruling the four seas also contains the “outer” mudra of the five-pronged pestle. In other words, these five mudra incorporate rule over all the four continents (i. e., the world), beginning with the “northern” continent, and the mudra for ruling over the four seas refers concretely to 38 Translator's note: The text is very ambiguous and could be interpreted in many ways.

See Kamikawa 1989a, p p. 120-21 for the original text. 39 T his point is made by Ito 1980. T he in’myO signify the transm ssion and conferring o f lineage among the high-ranking monies of the Sanmon branch, and show that there was a transmission of mudra and dMra^u during accession ceremonies within the temples. The con­ferring of the mudra and dMraru to the emperor thus consisted of a transmission of a different sort; the main point here is that it was considered important that, ideally speaking, the em­peror should go through a Buddhist ordination (kanp). 40 In Shingon Buddhism, mudra which symbolize the five wisdoms and the five central buddhas.262 Japanese Jou rn a l o f Religious Studies フ 7/2-3

the seven districts of Japan (Saikaido and so forth). Therefore these five mudra, as a fundamental expression of the sokui kanjd,symbolize rule over the “four seas.”41 2) The mudrS of the wisdom fist is the mudra formed by Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana), the central Buddha of esoteric Buddhism. The dharanl given here are dakinl hasaratatoban of the vajra realm, and dakinl abira-un^ken of the womb realm. The explanation of these dharanl differs according to which text you rely on, but in general “hasaratatoban” is the dharanl of Mahavairocana in the vajra realm, and “abira-un’ken” is the dharanl of

Mahavairocana in the womb realm. However, since the honzon (central deity) in this accession protocol is Dakini-ten (Dakinl), who is considered the “original ground (honji) of Amaterasu-5mikami and an incarnation of Dainichi Nyorai (see Abe 1989), and given the fact that other historical doc­uments related to sokui kanjd report the chanting of “dakini,”42 it is most accurate to refer to these dharanl (ddkini plus the dharanl of Dainichi Nyorai of both realms) as the

dakini dharanl. 3) The mudra for ruling the four seas refers to the four seas which surround Japan in the four directions, and the seven districts of Japan that are so surrounded (identified by the name of the main road which passes through them). The To-ji gosokui-bon calls for a sprinkling on the head with salt water from the four seas, but the m udrl concretely symbolize the seven districts, that is, the land of Japan.

In this way the complicated contents, secret mudra, and dharanl of 1 ) the five types of mudra, 2) the mudra of the fist of wisdom, and 3) the mudra for ruling the four seas are summarized (in the Tdji gosokui-bon and other protocols) by the phrase “three mudr江 and two dharani 4) The ten positive precepts (juzenkai) refer to ten types of good deeds, in contrast to the ten precepts which prohibit wrong action, such as the precept not to take any life. In fact, the phrase jUzen itself came to refer to the emperor and his rank, implying that the emperor deserves the throne due to the merits accumulated through 41 The term "five kinds of mudra” igoshu-in) is used in m any accession protocols.

42 The documents referred to in note 27 contain the phrase "merely saying ‘dakini,,the mudra is transmitted.'* More recent documents, e.g. the papers in the Konoe family collection kept at the T5ky5 Daigaku Shiryfl Hensansho, contain the following: uSohui kanjo: the mudr^ of the fist of wisdom; Mahavairocana of the vajra realm; the dhara^ii 'dakini hasaratatohan* [orally transmitted]/*KAMIKAWA: Accession Rituals and Buddhism 263 his performance of good deeds in previous lives (Nakamura 1981, p. 655c). 5) Finally, the four essential passages from the Lotus Sutra (chap­ters 2,14,16, and 25),are said to represent the kengyd

(“manifest” in contrast to “esoteric” teachings), thus providing the elements nec­essary to form a whole sokui kanjo which included both the esoteric and exoteric traditions (ken-mitsu itchi; see Abe 1989). However, it can be said that the mudra for ruling the four seas and the dakinl dharanl (taten’myd) are the fundamental content of the mudra and dharanl in the sokui kanjd.

Dakini-ten is believed to have attained buddhahood in this life (sokushin jobutsu) through sexual union,and the monk Monkan, who had a close relationship with Emperor Go-Daigo, was known as one who performed this ritual. Amino (1989,p. 184) claims that Go- Daigo himself performed “offerings to the holy deity” in an attempt to tap the fundamental power of sexuality for the sake of his im­perial authority. Tales related to the accession process give similar indications. According to Abe (1984), tales concerning Boku-o (King Mu) and jidd setsuwa,^ which developed as stories connected to the sokui kanjd t include those in which

abnormal sexual activity is used to reverse a disrupted imperial order and bring about a new sacred order. Also, Jien’s Musdki speaks of an identity of: imperial sword = Dainichi of the vajra realm = the sacred king of the golden ring [i. e. ruler of this world] = the emperor, and imperial jewels = Dainichi of the womb realm = the buddha-eye as mother = the em­press, and that the two become one through [[[Wikipedia:sexual|sexual]]] union, legit­imized through the concept of the toshoin (“sword and sheath mudra**) of esoteric Buddhism. Jien also interpreted the use of the mudra of the fist of wisdom by the new emperor during the acces­sion ceremony as a manifestation of the “golden ring” of Dainichi Nyorai (as the ruler of this world).


By legitimizing and reinterpreting in Buddhist terms the trans­mission of imperial rank through conferral of the three sacred 43 Tales concerning Boku-6 are centered around the Chinese K ing Mu o f the Chou dy­nasty (r.1001-946 B. c.), who is said to have received secret rites of imperial accession by re­ceiving a transmission of the four essential chapters of the Lotus Svtra from ^akyamuni in India. Thejike placed great weight on the significance of this secret rite in the transmission of Buddhism from India to China and Japan.ゾ^^ setsuwa (tales of compassion to children) refer to tales

involving the performance of “infant baptism” {chigo kanjo), beginning with those found in the ThiheHd.264 Japanese Jou rn a l o f Religious Studies 11/2-3 imperial regalia and the announcement of this fact to heaven and earth in the accession ceremony, Jien introduced some hidden sym­bolism through his identification of: imperial sword = Dainichi = the sacred ruler = the emperor. Later, the interpretation in the Musdki was used as a premise to introduce the

chanting of the Dakini-ten dharanl as an expression to symbolically represent the birth of a new emperor; and thereby the sexual union may have been expressed by the identification of: jewels = Dainichi =the buddha-eye as mother = the empress. This could be understood as a medieval Buddhist ritual of sacred matrimony. As many accession protocols were created in the later part of the Kamakura period, it seems that the dharanl of Dakini-ten were incorporated into the sokui kanjd for this very reason.


The mudra for ruling the four seas must surely symbolize the attainment by the emperor of the rights of a ruler to “rule the country and benefit the people”; this is a symbolic ritual from the Buddhist tradition.

A complicated ideology which served to legitimize the emperor’s rule was developed and continuously re-created by the rulers them­selves. At least as far as the sokui kanjo is concerned, the process was created and built up by the ruling upper class on the basis of the ken-mitsu theory and transmitted surreptitiously from master to disciple through secret rituals and teachings.44 In other words, the temple power faction, by emphasizing the ideology of the sokui kanjd, continuously protected the emperor’s rank and legitimacy. In this sense the existence of a protocol with the ideology of an emperor who ruled over “the four seas” played an important role in main­taining the emperor’s right to rule.

In another sense, the mudra and dharanl of the sokui kanjo played a role in advancing and making concrete the concept of the “mutual dependence of Imperial Law and Buddhist Law” that began at the

44 According to Tom ita Masahiro (1988), there was a monk named Shuho (1378-1441) of Kanchi<in who lived a typical life in the Muromachi period. Although one could say typical, he did inherit the advantages of being part of the powerful temple family of Kanchi-in, and thus was the recipient of many teachings and transmissions. Among these Shuho received the transmission of the sokui in’myO at the age of fifty-five. Later, at the age of sixty-one or two, he copied down the contents of this transmission in a document called Sokui daiji. This is just one example, and even though there is no evidence of any direct connection with the actual per­formance of a sokui kanjd f it shows that the sokui mudra and dhSrai^i were transmitted from master to disciple within the temples, and reflects the strong association between the emperor and the temples.KAMIKAWA: Accession Rituals and Buddhism 265 beginning of the medieval period, by taking it from an abstract theoretical level to that of having a concrete ritual which came to be accepted as something which should be performed at the time of an emperor's accession. The jike temple faction continuously em­phasized in their verbal expression of the accession protocols that the mutual dependence of Imperial Law and Buddhist Law is re­alized by having the sokui kanjd accepted as a part of the emperor’s accession rituals.

These kinds of accession protocols were supported not only by the jike people, but also, at the end of the Kamakura period, in writings by those who took a Shintoesque [shingi] approach while incorporating many mi^o-type interpretations. As Kushida (1941, 1964) has pointed out, documents kept at the Kanazawa Bunko include those which speak of a shingi 神祇 kanjd. According to Kushida, ceremonies called the tenshi shoun 天子紹運 kanjd (kanjo for the emperor to solicit good fortune) and the rinno 輪王 kanjo (kanjd of the ring-king) were associated with the emperor’s accession. The tenshi shoun kanjd,also called the Toke 藤家 kanjo (Fujiwara family kanjd), had the bodhisattva Shinko-o (Dakini-ten) = Amaterasu- omikami as the honzon, and Dainichi Nyorai as the honchi. The rinno-kanjot explained as “the ceremony to be performed at the Takami- kura,” had as its purpose the conferral of the certificate of trans­mission (injin) at the time of imperial accession. The mudra for ruling the four seas were considered central mudra at the time of the emperor’s accession, and these were also called Dakini-ten-hd.

These “Shinto” kanjd which surfaced toward the end of the Kama­kura period were used to legitimate the emperor's rule by erecting medieval Shinto ideas on a foundation of mikkyd Buddhist thought.

An important point here is that it was not until after Emperor Fushimi that we have a definite case of sokui kanjd actually being performed during the imperial accession ceremony. An examination of the records concerning ceremonies after this time, as seen in the records of the jike concerning accession protocol, shows that they have been greatly altered. Therefore I would like to examine the records of the actual performance of the sokui kanjo as recorded by the emperors themselves.

O f the accession protocols we have examinea, the To-ji protocol had the transmission being done by the regent, while the Tendai protocol called for the transmission to be performed by a high-rank­ing Buddhist monk. Even the Tendai protocol, however, by the266 Japanese Jou rn a l o f Religious Studies 17/2-3 middle of the medieval period was calling for the transmission to be performed by the regent. This aspect is a major difference be­tween this ceremony and the more regular denpd kanjd and kechien kanjo. I will discuss the meaning of this transmission of mudra and dharanl in the next section,and will now examine the actual mudra and dharanl conferred on the emperor, and the procedure for the performance of the accession ceremony. According to the record left by Ichijo

Kanera included in the Sokui kanjd in’myd yurai no koto, the ceremony proceeded as follows: The mudra was the mudra (of the wisdom fist), the dharanl was the dharanl (of DaKim). At the time of accession, at the Gobo, having washed his hands, rinsed his mouth, and supplicated heaven, the regent conferred [the mudra and dharani] on the emperor. The emperor formed the mudra with his hands, and with his mouth chanted the dharani (to himself). Advancing along the hall he ar­rived at the throne of the Takamikura. There were no other mat­ters besides these. As for matters concerning the sokui kanjo, although there are various rituals affiliated with the masters of the Sanmon branch of To-ji, our branch does not use them. One should be aware of the fact that they do not go beyond the single mudra and the single dharanl.

A definite difference between this explanation and the one given by the jike people is that the jike claimed that the contents of the sokui kanjd consisted of three mudra and two dharani, while this report by the regent speaks of only one mudra and one dharanl.

According to Ichij6 Kanera, the “various rituals” of the “masters of the Sanmon branch of To-jiM are not utilized by the regents.

What, then, are the single mudrS and dharani conferred by the regent? If we may deduce on the basis of the explanation of the three mudra and two dharanl in the sokui kanjd as explained by the jike,these most likely refer to the single mudra and dharani of part (2), i. e. the m udrl of the wisdom fist and the Dakini dharanl. The mudrS of the wisdom fist is included among the five types of mudrS in the first section, and also can represent the power of ruling over

the four seas. The dharanl associated with the mudra of the wisdom fist is the Dakini dharanl of the vajra and womb realms. It is safe to conclude that the single mudra and dharanl transmitted to the emperor by the regent were the mudra of the wisdom fist and the Dakini dharanl.45 The mudra and dhlrani transmitted by the regent to the emperorKAMIKAWA: Accession Rituals and Buddhism 267 were thus only the wisdom fist mudra and Dakini dharanl; the procedure was very simple (compared to the accession protocol, with its complicated esoteric rites as handed down by the jike), consisting of very minimal steps. As an ideology it

maintained the symbolic power of Dakini-ten and “rule over the four seas,” but the ritual process itself was compressed into a very simple form by the regent and emperor. The transmission of the mudra and dharani was per­formed by the regent before the actual accession ceremony, and then the emperor, with the knowledge from this transmission, formed the wisdom fist mudra and chanted the dharanl of Dakini-ten during the accession ceremony. A note indicates that this was not chanted out loud, but “to himself•” The sokui kanjo during the accession ceremony, as recorded by the priests, was supposedly performed at the top of the Takamikura.


However, the sokui kanjo and the transmission of the mudra and dharanl were actually conducted separately, with the transmission taking place before the accession ceremony. According to Ichijo Kanera, the emperor reached the Takamikura while forming the mudra and chanting the dharanl. In sum, there was a process of sokui kanjd rituals, which ran from the moment the emperor pro­gressed toward the Takamikura until he ascended the Takamikura, which was considered to be the first moment of his rule over “the hundred officials and myriads of people.”

The Ideology and Meaning of the Sokui Kanjo It is interesting to note that the sokui kanjd that came to be per­formed in medieval Japan is very similar to an important element in the royal inauguration ceremonies in Christian countries in the West, i. e., the ceremony of anointing with oil. This anointing with oil consisted in having the Roman Pope pour sacred oil on the king during his inauguration — a ceremony of consecration.46 Anointing

45 The Sokui kanjS in'myS yurai no koto has been passed down continuously in the modern period. In a note added on Hoei 7 (1710).8.21, which records the content of the transmission, the mudrA was the wisdom fist mudrA of the vajra realm, and the dhAra^iI was the five-lettered dhArai>i (abira-u^ken) of the womb realm. See also Amino 1986. One may conclude that the dhArai^I used was the Dakini abira-un^ken dhArai^i. 46 According to H ocart 1969,royal accession ceremonies throughout the world almost always involve anointm ent or p ouring o f oil, indicating a cerem ony o f consecration. Sokui

kanjd i insofar as it involves pouring water on the head, corresponds to this kind of ceremony.268 Japanese with oil came to have a critical political significance at the time of Pepin’s coup d’etat in 751. Pepin, as ruler of the Franks, transferred the royal lineage from the Merovingian family to the Carolingians, and he himself became king of the Franks. At this time, following the practice in the Old Testament, he had

himself anointed with oil by a Catholic archbishop. It is said that the sacramental nature of this anointment was a Christian form of the ancient magico- religious Germanic rites celebrating the rank of kingship (see M itteis and Lieberich 1976). After this time the Pope came to hold the position of mediator between God and king during the accession ceremonies, thus maintaining a position superior to that of earthly kings during the medieval period in Europe. In other words, the religious and political activities of the king, whose legit­imacy was based on the theory of the divine right of kings, stood in tension with

the Pope’s authority, who constantly (at least theo­retically) had the authority to judge the king’s legitimacy. This sit­uation contributed to repeated conflicts over the right of investiture by the Church, and even to the excommunication of some kings (see Ullm ann 1966).47 Whatever their similarities as ceremonies for imperial accession, however, the anointment with oil and the sokui kanjo have distinct differences in their appearance in history.


The sokui kanjo was the concrete manifestation of the idea of the mutual dependence of Imperial Law and Buddhist Law, an idea first proposed at the level of abstract theory and then manifested symbolically through the actual performance of esoteric Buddhist rites by the emperor himself during the accession ceremony. If we spoke of these esoteric rites during the accession ceremony in terms of the sanctification of the emperor on the Takamikura, and as being on the same level as a transmission of a Buddhist lineage in the sense of a denpd kanjd by the masters of the esoteric and exoteric Buddhist traditions, then we could say that the sokui kanjd had a meaning similar to that of the European kings’ anointment with oil.

In other words, we could say that the emperor in medieval Japan

Ullm a n n (1966) claims that the relationship between the Pope and King as established in the early medieval period already contained all the elements which resulted in the conflict between the two sides in the middle of the medieval period. M itteis and L ieberich (1976) claim that the anointing of oil by the Pope became an important element in the enthronement cerem onies after the m iddle o f the n in th century, and that this nullified any meaning to having the king crow n him self.KAMIKAWA: Accession Rituals and Buddhism 269 based his legitimation on a kind of Buddhistdivine right” of kings.

However,the actual performance of sokui kanjd was significantly altered from the accession protocol proposed by the jike. The concept of the sokui kanjd was incorporated in a greatly condensed and simplified form, with the regent first receiving and then in turn conferring the transmission of the mudra and dharanl, and then the emperor himself performing these actions at the Takamikura on the day of the accession ceremony.

The master-disciple relationship (shishi sosho 師資相承)formed through the performance of denpd kanjo within the temple society of medieval Japan involved the creation of lineages and factions which carried over into secular society.48 However, the performance of sokui kanjd by the emperor did not involve the creation of a lineage relationship such as that created through denpd kanjo. In addition,the complicated accession protocol developed by the temple and shrine people was accepted and used by the court only after considerable simplification and change. What, then, were the ideo­logical reasons for these modifications? The conferral of the mudra and dharanl in the sokui kanjo was always actually performed, not by a Buddhist monk, but by a regent.

The emperor received the transmission of one mudra and one dharanl from a sessho or a kanpaku, and on the day of the accession ceremony, from the moment when he started to climb the Takami­kura until he reached the top, the emperor formed the mudra of the wisdom fist and chanted the Dakini dharanl. Although the cer­emony is called a kanjd, the activity is carried out by the emperor alone. If the emperor were to receive the transmission from a Bud­dhist monk, tms would establish a master-disciple relationship, and this would involve incorporating the emperor into one of the factions in the temple social structure. The actual performance of sokui kanjd, however, assumes that it is the emperor who stands at the apex.

Therefore the mudra and dharani are not conferred on the emperor directly by Buddhist monks, and even the presence of monks was not allowed during the actual accession ceremony.

481 consider this master-disciple relationship to be the basic norm which characterized tem­ple society in medieval Japan, i. e. the restricted and exclusive transmission of the dharma lin­eage served as the basis also for passing on responsibility for “secular” matters: materia] rights to the economic assets of the temple families such as buildings, property, religious teachings,

shSenf land, and so forth, as w ell as the religious inheritance. I believe that the medieval temple system was formed in this way around the middle of the 11th century.

The religious ideology of the sokui kanjd consisted in the produc­tion of an emperor who stood at the apex of a Buddhist world order. As interpreted by Jien, the emperor was identified with Dai­nichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana), and Dainichi Nyorai is incarnate in the emperor who ascends the Takamikura.49 If so, then the emperor, as the incarnation of Dainichi Nyorai, would stand as the pre­eminent figure and ruler with regard to the temple factions, i. e. the disciples of the Buddha who belong to the dharma lineage of Dainichi Nyorai. The reason is clear: Dainichi Nyorai is the primal existent which transcends all the lineages of which the Buddhist disciples were a part.

Thus the emperor, as one who through the sokui kanjd has gone beyond secularity, attained sacrality, and become like one who is enlightened with regard to the entire universe, embodied an unas­sailable status which transcended temple and shrine authority. The performance of sokui kanjd involved an absorption of Dainichi Nyo­rai; the emperor did not become a servant of Sakyamuni or a partial embodiment of a Buddha50 —he was transformed into Dainichi Nyorai.


It is likely that the people in the temple / shrine power structure had an interest in supporting the legitimacy of the emperor, and did so by offering a Buddhist legitimization of the emperor through endorsing the sokui kanjd. On the other hand, they also sought to expand their influence by increasing the number of followers within their organization.51 The temple / shrine power structure was not able to establish a single absolute authority which would serve as a unifying factor, however, and during the medieval period the right to appoint the highest ranking clerics rested with the emperor (see Kuroda 1975). Behind the ideology symbolized in the sokui kanjd

49 Originally the Takamikura o f the accession ceremony represented the peak o flakach ih o 高千稳,on which the "grandson of the kami” descended, and the appearance of the emperor before the ministers was a ritual re-enactment of Ninigi’s descent on Takachiho. See Okada Seiji 1983. 60 On the concept of the retired emperor as a servant of^Shakyamuni or a partial embodiment of a Buddha, see Taira M asayuki 1987. 51 Taira (1987) points o ut that the temple / shrine pow er structure d id not have an inde­pendent unified organization, and aigued that the unification of the temple and shrine power

structure through the political power of the inset (retired emperor system) reveals the weak political power of the temple and shrine power structure. This interpretation of the political weakness of the temples and shrines can also be supported from the perspective of the ideol­ogy revealed in the symbolism of the sokui kanfi ritual.KAMIKAWA: Accession Rituals and Buddhism 271 as an accession ritual lies the world of the temple / shrine power structures, which supported the emperor as ruler of the country, and thereby affirmed its own usefulness and raison d'itre.

What, then, was the historical significance of having the regent confer the mudra and dharanl? The regent was responsible for assisting and counseling the emperor. By the end of the Kamakura period, however, the rank had lost much of its actual political status.

Especially after the rule of retired emperor Go-Saga, when the role of the regent was significantly weakened, there was a movement to strengthen the position and justify its existence through emphasizing the relationship of the regent to the emperor. The tendency was concretely manifested in the new role of the regent as one who confers the mudra and dharani on the emperor at the time of accession. We might surmise,then, that the regency was an active party in the process which culminated in the actual performance of the sokui kanjo.

However, the role of the regent is to assist the emperor, and he could not play the central role in the sokui kanjd. During the sokui kanjd it was the emperor alone who performed the rite, and the regent’s role was limited to transmitting the mudra and dharanl.

The temple and shrine authorities, who savored social status par­ticularly during the medieval period, granted the status of a man­ifestation of the highest Buddhist authority to the emperor through the accession ceremony. In contrast, court society’s relationship to the emperor had already been defined through the mythological world of ancient times. This fact was reconfirmed during the me­dieval period, e. g. by Kujo Michiie,whose political authority was absorbed by the

retired emperor Go-Saga, and who attempted to assert his role as a counselor to the emperor by quoting the phrase “the intention of the pledge made by Amaterasu-5mikami (the an­cestral kami of the emperors) to Amanokoyane-no-mikoto (the an­cestral kami of the ministers).”52 Also, Dainichi Nyorai, who was believed to be incarnate in the emperor through the accession cer­emony, was the honji (“original basis”)of Amaterasu-omikami. In the latter part of the Kamakura period, ceremonies corresponding to the sokui kanjd were endorsed by Shintoesque (shingi) thinkers,

52 See O kada 1986. Amanokoyane-no-mikoto was the ancestral kam i of the Fujiwara family, who had received the pledge that he would be Amaterasu*s counselor. The attempt to justify the relationship between the regent and the emperor had already been done previously by Jie n in the GukanshO. See Oyama 1974.

and among court society it was never completely accepted that the emperor was fully Dainichi Nyorai, and they maintained their own traditional / mythological system. Therefore even if the emperor per­formed the sokui kanjd, this was understood as an appendage to the traditional concept of recognizing Amaterasu as the original source who, in terms of the logic of medieval esoteric Buddhism,was the manifestation of the more basic Dainichi Nyorai. One could go even further and say that the transmission of mudrS and dharanl by the regent was merely a part of the duties required of the assistant to the emperor, and that this includes no implications of the principle of master-disciple relationship that one has in the Buddhist context.

In other words the regent families, after experiencing an inexo­rable political decline in the second half of the Kamakura period, showed an active interest in the sokui kanjo and bought into the role of transmitting the mudra and dharanl because of an increasing need to accentuate their place in the country’s political rule. Even so, their role was limited to a preliminary level, and was an attempt to stress their own role as an assistant to the emperor. In short, through this subject of the sokui kanjo we can perceive the various tendencies of the three groups of emperor, temples and shrines, and the regents.

The temple and shrine people used the logic of their Buddhist tradition, and the regents used the logic of the traditional / mythological system, each to stress their place and relationship to the emperor. Each emphasized their own role in the sokui kanjo as an accession ritual, both attempting to express the legitimacy and security of their own status. The emperor, however, retained the right to perform the sokui kanjd alone, and thus ab­sorbed the tendencies of both groups, maintained his supremacy, and expressed his status as the ruler of the whole land and sea.53 The status and relationship of the temples and shrine

people, the regents, and the emperor are thus reflected in the accession proto­cols, transmission of mudra and dharanl, and the sokui kanjo. The nature of the emperor's authority is manifested symbolically in the manner in which the emperor performed the sokui kanjd, that is, by himself.54 55 Of course, the emperor should be distinguished from the retired emperor, who was able to take the precepts and become a Buddhist monk. M A full analysis o f the sokui itanjO should include the role o f the military families (bttke), who did not have their own source of authority and yet were in fact the real rulers of the country.

I hope to consider this aspect in the future. For details see Kamikawa 1989a, p. 138.KAMIKAWA: Accession Rituals and Buddhism 273


Conclusion


In this article I have examined the sokui kanjo performed during the Japanese emperor’s accession ceremony as an example of a Buddhist element present in the accession rituals of the medieval period. A change of emperors was complete only after the perfor­mance of the accession rites, which included many rituals besides the accession ceremony. It is worth noting, however, that the struc­ture of the accession rites underwent various changes throughout history. The daijdsai was an important event under the ritsuryd system, and it continued to be of significance in the medieval period—so much so that when Emperor Chukyo was unable to have the daijdsai performed due to the Jokyu rebellion, he was called a “half-emperor” 半 帝 .55 The daijdsai, however, practically ceased to be performed towards the end of the medieval period. Except for the performances of the daijdsai in Bunsho 1(1466) for the accession of Go-Tsuchi- mikado,and in j5kyo 4 (1687) for Emperor Higashiyama, until the revival of the daijdsai in Genbun 3 (1738) for Emperor Sakuramachi, the emperors during a period of more than 272 years are recognized as legitimate without the benefit of having gone through a perfor­mance of the daijdsai.

The yasoshima matsuri 八十嶋祭,a festival that has its origins in ancient times and was celebrated by the emperor under the ritsuryd system the year after the daijdsai, also was last celebrated at the beginning of the Kamakura period, around the time of the Jokyu rebellion (Okada 1970). According to Okada, the yasoshima matsuri has its origins in the fifth century a.d_, and was celebrated so that the “spirits of the eight great continents” 大八洲之霊 would join with the new emperor, thus bestowing upon him religious status as ruler of the country. The extinction of this celebration at this time is significant: the sokui kanjd which appeared around that time in its place was also performed to legitimize rule over the country (“rule over the four seas”), based on the ideology of esoteric and exoteric Buddhism.

Even though the daijdsai and niinamesai56 fell into disuse, along 55 In fact the nam e "C hukyo" is a posthum ous title that wasn’t conferred on this “em peror” until 1870.

The niinatnesai also fell into disuse at the same time as the daijSsai, being last performed in Kanshd 3 (1462) for Emperor Go-Hanazono.274 Japanese Jou rn a l o f Religious Studies 17/2-3

with the yasoshima matsurit the accession ceremony during the period of warring states was performed, though often delayed. However, in the midst of great changes in the accession rites, it is unlikely that the accession ceremony alone retained the same form and meaning it had in ancient times. As we have seen in this article, there was the addition of the sokui kanjdt an esoteric Buddhist rit­ual—a fact of great significance with regard to the place of the emperor in medieval Japan.

If, in fact, the emperor performed a Buddhist accession ritual in the midst of the traditional accession ceremony, this was an epochal event in the history of the emperor system, even if all Buddhist monks were carefully barred from attendance. By the introduction of an esoteric Buddhist ritual into the accession ceremony, the cer­emony itself came to take on additional meaning. Presumably, along with the abandonment of the thoroughly secret ritual performance of the daijdsai,the secret ritual of esoteric Buddhism for the purpose of having the emperor attain the spiritual status of unity with the original source (i. e. Dainichi Nyorai = Amaterasu-Omikami) was added to the accession ceremony. This ceremony was based on the idea that it was performed in order to make public —announce to the “hundred ministers and myriads of people” 一 the fact of the emperor’s accession. In other words, esoteric and exoteric Buddhism was an important structural element in the authority of the medieval emperor, and as long as the emperor could attain this religious status through the performance of the sokui kanjd during the acces­sion ceremony, there was no longer any need for performing the daijdsai.

How to interpret the meaning of sokui kanjd in modern times is a topic for further study. The sokui kanjd was performed until the end of the Tokugawa period, with the last performance in K6ka 4 (1847) during the accession ceremony of Emperor Komei. At that time, however, it was objected to, and this practice, along with all other Buddhist elements, was completely purged from the accession rites performed for the next emperor, Meiji (see Takagi 1987).

From the perspective of modern ideas governing the relationship between religion and the state, it may be difficult to imagine why a Buddhist ritual was incorporated into the imperial accession cer­emony. This may also be one reason why not much is known about the sokui kanjd, even among scholars. However,just as the accession ceremony was “reformed” in the Meiji period by adding newKAMIKAWA: Accession Rituals and Buddhism 275 contents through the process of creating the modern imperial system (see Inoue 1986), so in the medieval period a new authority was born on the basis of mutual relationships between religion, national systems, and social structures, a situation chat could not be ade­quately controlled by ancient institutions. It was this situation which came to be expressed symbolically through the ritual performance of sokui kanjo in the accession ceremony.


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